Jeremiah 35 tells an interesting story about the family of the Rechabites. Jeremiah is written in the midst of exile, in the years right before and right after the people end up in Babylonian captivity. The main reason they end up in exile is because they failed to obey God. They failed to honor God and follow his commands above all else. During Jeremiah’s teachings he pulls in the family of the Rechabites as an object lesson. The Rechabites had long lived as nomads in the areas of Israel. Their ancestor Jonadab had commanded them to drink no wine, never build a house, and never plant a vineyard. Instead, they were to live in tents as nomads all their days of their lives. And they had obeyed. Jeremiah even goes so far as to bring them in and offer them some of the best wine to drink but they refuse saying, “we have obeyed and done all that our ancestor Jonadab commanded us.” Here was a family of people, currently taking shelter in Jerusalem because of the presence of the Babylonian army, who had always obeyed the words of their ancestors and would continue to obey simply because they were told to do so. However, all around them, living in Jerusalem, were those who were preparing to be sent into exile because they refused to obey God. The Rechabites obeyed their earthly ancestor in everything. While the Israelites refused to obey the God of the universe. The contrast could not be more striking.
God then speaks to the Israelites through Jeremiah and says, can you not learn a lesson from the Rechabites. They obey their ancestor but you refuse to obey me. I have given you chance upon chance and you refuse to obey me. I have sent my prophets and servants to encourage you and challenge you and you refuse to obey. I have threatened you with exile and you have refused to obey. The opposing army is bearing down all around you and you still refuse to obey. Why won’t you follow my commands? Why won’t you obey my words? I don’t understand?
Can we not learn a lesson from the Rechabites? How often are we in danger of making the same mistakes as the Israelites? All of us on some level have people that we report to. If your boss or your supervisor asked you to do an assignment or complete a report or follow up on a lead you would do so. Very rarely would we even think of simply ignoring something our boss had told us to do. Even if we didn’t agree with the assignment we wouldn’t just ignore it. We might ask for clarification or suggest a more effective way of getting the task accomplished, but we wouldn’t just ignore it. And if our boss demanded something be done in a certain way even if we disagreed we would do it (unless the request was sinful). We would never simply ignore a command.
Most parents would never allow their children to simply disobey their rules. Sure, some parents are better than others at demanding respect and following through on what they say, but no one would expect children to simply disobey. Everyone assumes that children should obey their parents and those in authority over them. We know that children aren’t wise enough to make their own decisions so we expect parents and other adults to help guide them and lead them to maturity. It’s the way the world works.
We all know that obedience to those who are wiser or who have authority over us is the right thing to do. So, if Jesus is Lord don’t we have to obey. And not just in the big things but all the time. It seems so simple doesn’t it. If we would obey our parents and obey our boss why would we ever think of disobeying God? Maybe we try to make discipleship alittle too difficult. Maybe its really a simple endeavor summarized in two words: Obey God. That’s it. Obey God. Pretty simple when you think about it. Many of our problems in life would go away if we could ever master those two words, obey God. Perhaps we too could learn a lesson from the Rechabites.